997: Tip­tronic to man­ual

Want to con­vert your Tip­tronic 997 into a glo­ri­ous, three-ped­alled man­ual? To­tal 911 reader Oliver Plog­mann shows you how…

Total 911 - - Contents - Writ­ten by Joe Wil­liams Pho­tog­ra­phy cour­tesy Irvin Teo

A To­tal 911 reader has suc­cess­fully con­verted his 997.1 Car­rera to three ped­als. Here his se­crets are re­vealed

“I’ve been a Porsche fan for al­most 30 years,” says Oliver Plog­mann, To­tal 911 reader and past owner of sev­eral Ne­unelfers. “I had air­cooled cars from a 1970 2.2T all the way to a 1997 993 Car­rera, and more re­cently a wa­ter­cooled 997.” Orig­i­nally from Ger­many, Porsche’s home ter­ri­tory is where Plog­mann owned most of his cars be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to Sin­ga­pore a few years back.

For a car en­thu­si­ast, Sin­ga­pore throws up one or two prob­lems: “The down­side here is the speed limit, and the fact that the car mar­ket is tiny com­pared to Europe or North Amer­ica. The lo­cal reg­u­la­tions also pro­hibit the im­port of used cars over three years of age, apart from the clas­sic car scheme for cars over an age of 35 years with lim­ited use of only 45 days a cal­en­dar year,” he says.

Most cars are ex­ported or scrapped after ten years of use due to the reg­u­la­tions of the ‘Cer­tifi­cate of En­ti­tle­ment’, which is a ten-year li­cense tagged to the car for per­mit­ted use. Plog­mann reck­ons this helps the gov­ern­ment con­trol the amount of cars on the roads and en­sures that most of the cars, be­ing new, have low-emis­sion stan­dards. “It’s a great place to live, but not re­ally the best place for a car nut,” he says.

Mr Plog­mann’s lo­ca­tion and the au­to­mo­tive re­straints which come with it are pre­cisely what lead to his un­der­tak­ing of a dras­tic pro­ject on his

997.1 Car­rera 4S. He takes up the story: “As Wal­ter Röhrl said in his To­tal 911 in­ter­view ear­lier this year, ‘All my cars have man­ual gear­boxes.’ I’m the same. I like my Porsche cars with man­ual trans­mis­sion. Cer­tainly, the newer PDKS are fan­tas­tic, tech­ni­cally ad­vanced and faster than a stick shift, but man­ual shift­ing and three ped­als is more en­gag­ing for me on B-roads and on track. I feel more con­nected to the car, even if it is a few sec­onds slower on the lap time. I also think the early au­to­matic trans­mis­sions with only four (964 and 993) or five gears (996 and 997) with long gear ra­tios and shift­ing times do not do the car jus­tice un­less you drive it in heavy city traf­fic ev­ery day. For most own­ers this is ac­tu­ally the case here in Sin­ga­pore and the rea­son why many made a com­pro­mise to choose the au­to­matic gear­box over the man­ual op­tion.”

There are sim­ply very few man­ual cars around, with the ex­cep­tion of a few GT cars which com­mand a sig­nif­i­cant premium over other Porsche mod­els, which them­selves come with price tags two- to three-times higher than Europe, this the re­sult of state taxes, ad­di­tional reg­is­tra­tion fees and the COE. Plog­mann reck­ons this, plus the fact the 997.1 is now over ten years old, means there are only a handful of man­ual 997.1 Car­rera it­er­a­tions left in the city state. “When I say a handful, I lit­er­ally mean five cars,” he says. “Im­port­ing used cars of that age is sim­ply pro­hib­ited, so your only op­tions are pay­ing a sig­nif­i­cant premium to get one of the few man­ual cars – if one is for sale at all – live with the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, or try out a con­ver­sion.”

For our charis­matic Ger­man, that last op­tion was the op­tion of choice. “After a long search for a suit­able 997 and on a bud­get, I ended up with a lowmileage, un­mo­lested 2006 997.1 C4S Tip­tronic with a re­newed COE, so I took the plunge to try to con­vert my ‘Tip’ to a man­ual,” he says.

We are grate­ful that our loyal To­tal 911 reader is happy to share his ex­pe­ri­ences with this com­pli­cated pro­ce­dure, and so we let him take up the story from here: “The swap can prob­a­bly be done in a few days, pro­vided you have ev­ery­thing to­gether and know what you are do­ing. All parts are pretty much ‘plug and play’ thanks to the smart pro­duc­tion plan­ning by Porsche. There are no in­va­sive pro­ce­dures or al­ter­ations to the chas­sis or mount­ing points nec­es­sary. So, if you re­ally want to do it, you can al­ways con­vert it back for orig­i­nal­ity. The big­gest ef­fort went into re­search, study of wire di­a­grams, talk­ing to ex­perts and sourc­ing and im­port­ing all the nec­es­sary parts. And all this just to find out I was still miss­ing a wire or a screw when I had put the car up on the ramp!

“I started the search for parts at the end of last year and got the trans­mis­sion and pedal box for a right-hand-drive car, plus some other small and harder-to-find things from a used Porsche parts dealer in Bel­gium. I man­aged to look at ev­ery­thing on one of my trips to Europe. Filip from FG Porsche can al­ways help out and he is a great re­source. I de­cided to or­der most of the other things new to en­sure qual­ity. To know what parts you need it is best to down­load the Porsche PET parts cat­a­logue from the of­fi­cial web­site and search for the op­tion codes I249tip­tronic and I480-6-spd-trans­mis­sion to see the dif­fer­ences; also look out for I099-right-hand-drive and I098-left-hand-drive depend­ing on what side you have your steer­ing wheel.

“Depend­ing on where you get your parts from and how much you buy used over new, the cost is ac­tu­ally not that high. Due to the high pro­duc­tion num­bers of the 997 there are plenty of used parts around as well. The big-ticket items are the trans­mis­sion it­self, the drive­shafts, a new fly­wheel

and clutch and the in­stru­ment clus­ter, if you re­place it like I did. Over­all for me the costs were some­where around €8,000 for all the hard­ware, which I think is rea­son­able for our mar­ket given that a used car is some­where north of €100,000 – this is the start­ing price for the cheapest cars older than ten years!

“The things I wasn’t sure about were the elec­tron­ics and wiring. From the di­a­grams I could see there isn’t that much dif­fer­ence be­tween both cars, apart from the fact that the Tip cars have this ex­tra har­ness for the Tip­tronic Con­trol Unit (TCU) and the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion it­self. But I was not sure if there was more to it be­fore I got started. It turned out that the wiring was ac­tu­ally not a big prob­lem at all. Once you re­move the TCU and the fuses you can even leave the ad­di­tional har­ness in the car if you would want to have the op­tion to re­vert it back one day. You can also re­move it, which in­volves a bit more in­te­rior re­moval and ef­fort, but saves some weight.

“The main dif­fer­ences are the wires for the clutch pedal switch, the wires for the re­v­erse switch – which are taken from the shifter on the Tip, while they are taken from the trans­mis­sion on the man­ual cars – and the main power cable for the starter. This is all fairly easy to change, how­ever. The other hur­dle was the re­pro­gram­ming of the elec­tron­ics, in­clud­ing the ECU, which is nec­es­sary to make the car work at all. You will need an ex­pert here who has ac­cess to the nec­es­sary com­puter equip­ment and soft­ware, as well as the codes for your car.

“Many of the main elec­tron­ics com­po­nents and con­trol units are set with so-called IPAS codes, for ex­am­ple the im­mo­biliser, keys and ECU. It is a smart se­cu­rity fea­ture so that some­one with bad in­ten­tions could not just bring a re­place­ment con­trol unit and some keys, swap them out and drive off with your car. The ECUS for man­ual and Tip­tronic cars are ac­tu­ally the same part num­ber, just loaded with a dif­fer­ent soft­ware. Re­plac­ing the ECU with one from a man­ual car is not an op­tion, how­ever, as the car would recog­nise the ex­changed part and won’t start. Here you will need help from your Porsche dealer to do the pro­gram­ming for you.

“Thanks to my fan­tas­tic me­chanic Ah Fai I man­aged to get ev­ery­thing done. After sev­eral tech­ni­cal checks and de­tailed in­spec­tions the car was fi­nally ap­proved by the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, and the doc­u­men­ta­tion changed ac­cord­ingly. So the car is now of­fi­cially a 997.1 C4S man­ual Coupe, as per the log card. It’s the first of­fi­cial one, at least in this coun­try.” Never mind in Sin­ga­pore, Plog­mann’s work – bor­der­ing on the out­ra­geous – means it’s the first such con­ver­sion on a 997.1 we’ve heard of, due to the costs of the con­ver­sion against the rel­a­tively cheap cost of the cars in gen­eral. How­ever, as our charis­matic Ger­man said, the fi­nan­cial en­vi­ron­ment in Sin­ga­pore means such a con­ver­sion is fis­cally pos­si­ble.

In fact, Plog­mann’s hard work has gained the plau­dits of spe­cial­ist tech­ni­cians in the in­dus­try too, in­clud­ing To­tal 911’s own res­i­dent ‘Ask the Ex­pert’ and Gold-cer­ti­fied Porsche tech­ni­cian, Scott Gard­ner. “It’s not some­thing I’ve ever heard of be­fore and

I’ve never seen a car with such a con­ver­sion done,” Scott says, look­ing at the pic­tures of the con­ver­sion. “How­ever, I can un­der­stand why he’s cho­sen to mod­ify his car in this way; a 997, for me, has to be a man­ual. Other than the high cost of do­ing such a con­ver­sion and be­ing very labour in­ten­sive, in my mind it would be fairly straight for­ward – for ex­am­ple, re­gard­ing the En­gine’s ECU, a re­pro­gram would be all that is re­quired, as well as mod­i­fy­ing the cod­ing in some of the other mod­ules.

“I can imag­ine in­stalling the clutch pedal as well as the clutch line to the slave cylin­der would be a bit fid­dly. It’s cer­tainly not a rec­om­men­da­tion I would be mak­ing to go and con­vert your Tip­tronic to a man­ual, but it just goes to show there are var­i­ous op­tions out there. Huge credit to Mr Plog­mann for see­ing it through.”

Mr Plog­mann him­self is clearly just happy to own the car he’s de­sired all along. “I am thank­ful to ev­ery­one who helped on the way. I didn’t know what I was get­ting into and I think many peo­ple thought I was crazy, but it was worth it. I can now fully en­joy my 997 man­ual dur­ing spir­ited drives up north to Malaysia, with fan­tas­tic B-roads through palm oil plan­ta­tions or rain forests or, once in a while, on the Sepang track. Next to my

1994 993 Car­rera, which is man­ual of course, this is the ideal mod­ern car for me,” he says. Happy ped­dling, sir.

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